Facial Emotion Recognition in Schizophrenia: When and Why Does it Go Awry?



Schizophrenia patients demonstrate impaired emotional processing that may be due, in part, to impaired facial emotionrecognition. This study examined event-related potential (ERP) responses to emotional faces in schizophrenia patients and controls to determine when, in the temporal processing stream, patient abnormalities occur.


16 patients and 16 healthy control participants performed a facial emotionrecognition task. Very sad, somewhat sad, neutral, somewhat happy, and very happy faces were each presented for 100 ms. Subjects indicated whether each face was “Happy”, “Neutral”, or “Sad”. Evoked potential data were obtained using a 32-channel EEG system.


Controls performed better than patients in recognizing facial emotions. In patients, better recognition of happy faces correlated with less severe negative symptoms. Four ERP components corresponding to the P100, N170, N250, and P300 were identified. Group differences were noted for the N170 “face processing” component that underlies the structural encoding of facial features, but not for the subsequent N250 “affect modulation” component. Higher amplitude of the N170 response to sad faces was correlated with less severe delusional symptoms. Although P300 abnormalities were found, the variance of this component was explained by the earlier N170 response.


Patients with schizophrenia demonstrate abnormalities in early visual encoding of facial features that precedes the ERP response typically associated with facial affect recognition. This suggests that affectrecognition deficits, at least for happy and sad discrimination, are secondary to faulty structural encoding of faces. The association of abnormal face encoding with delusions may denote the physiological basis for clinical misidentification syndromes.

–by Bruce Turetsky, Christian Kohler, Tim Indersmitten, Mahendra Bhati, Dorothy Charbonnier, Ruben Gur



FDA Asks For Voluntary Recall Of Popular Generic Wellbutrin 300mg

The FDA’s reversal earlier this week of its approval of a generic equivalent of the popular antidepressant Wellbutrin XL 300 ends a five-year saga that began with consumer complaints and a crusade by Joe Graedon, the cofounder of the consumer advocacy group the People’s Pharmacy.

In 2007, Graedon began receiving disturbing complaints on his website from patients who had been taking the 300 mg dose of Wellbutrin and had recently switched over to the generic equivalent Budeprion XL 300. Budeprion products are sold by Teva Pharmaceuticals and made by Impax Laboratories, both headquartered in Philadelphia.

“People were saying, ‘I’ve been on Wellbutrin for several years and things were fine and dandy, but once I was switched I started experiencing headaches, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness’,” he said. “People who had never been suicidal were all of a sudden reporting suicidal thoughts.”

At first Graedon said he was skeptical. But after he had received a few dozen messages, he decided to write about it in his syndicated newspaper column. That’s when the floodgates opened: Soon more than a thousand messages poured into the People’s Pharmacy website describing the same symptoms, in intimate detail.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/fda-finds-generic-antidepressant-original/story?id=17399399#.UG9TpLTM_ao


YOUNG ADULTS On Parents Insurance Plan: Are You Comfortable With PARENTS Finding Out That You Received Mental Healthcare Treatment, From Their Insurance Company?

Elizabeth Nash was 21 and just finishing her junior year at the College of William & Mary when she had a miscarriage. She planned to tell her parents about it in person, but her insurer beat her to it when, as a matter of routine, it mailed them a form that described the medical treatment she’d received.

Nash says the experience “caused a rift that took a while to repair.”

Nash, now 38, recently co-authored an analysis of state laws on health-care confidentiality for insured dependents for the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health organization, and was surprised to find that state laws in this area are “so lacking and vague and mushy.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, which allows adult children to stay on their parents’ plans until they reach age 26, breaches of privacy such as the one Nash experienced may become a growing problem. Since the law passed, more than 3 million young adults have gained coverage, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Although parents must give consent for most care provided to children younger than 18, many states allow minors to consent on their own to such potentially sensitive services as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, prenatal care and delivery, contraception and outpatient treatment for mental health and substance abuse.

The privacy rule of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which took effect a decade ago, generally prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of individuals’ medical records and other health information. But there’s a catch. Health-care providers and insurers can generally use such information when trying to secure payment for treatment or other services.

Read more: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Features/Insuring-Your-Health/2012/under-26-insurance-privacy-michelle-andrews-100212.aspx

By Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News

Facial Expressions of Emotions and Schizophrenia

It is generally agreed that schizophrenia patients show a markedly reduced ability to perceive and express facial emotions. Previous studies have shown, however, that such deficits are emotion-specific in schizophrenia and not generalized. Three kinds of studies were examined: decoding studies dealing with schizophrenia patients’ ability to perceive universally recognized facial expressions of emotions, encoding studies deal- ing with schizophrenia patients’ ability to express certain facial emotions, and studies of subjective reactions of patients’ sensitivity toward universally recognized facial expressions of emotions. A review of these studies shows that schizophrenia patients, despite a general impairment of perception or expression of facial emotions, are highly sensitive to certain negative emotions of fear and anger. These observations are discussed in the light of hemispheric theory, which accounts for a generalized performance deficit, and social-cognitive theory, which accounts for an emotion-specific deficit in schizophrenia.

by Manas K. Mandal, Rakesh Pandey, Akhouri B. Prasa


Individuals with Schizophrenia: How Eye Contact, Facial Expressions, and Body Language Are the Key to Connection

Just by looking at someone, you experience them. Ever fallen in love at first sight or had a “gut feeling” about someone? You internally resonated with them. Ever seen someone trip and momentarily felt a twinge of pain for them? Observing them activates the “pain matrix” in your brainresearch shows. Ever been moved by the sight of a person helping someone? You vicariously experienced it and thereby felt elevation.

We are wired to read each others’ bodies. Not just in terms of physical appearance but at a subtler and more complex level that lies at the root of lasting love, empathy and social connection. This process is called “resonance” and it is so automatic and rapid that it often happens unconsciously.

Like an acute sounding board, parts of our brain internally echo what others do and feel. Appropriately called “mirror neurons,” they serve as in-built monitors that reflect other people’s state of mind. Someone’s smile, for example, activates the smile muscles in our faces, while a frown activates our frown muscles, according to research by Ulf Dimberg at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Before even talking to someone, you have already downloaded large amounts of information about them on a subconscious level. “We are programmed to observe each other’s states so we can more appropriately interact, empathize, or assert our boundaries, whatever the situation may require,” says Paula Niedenthal, Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison specialized in resonance.

Read more: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201210/reading-bodies-touching-minds

by Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D., Psychology Today

Cannabis Does Not Cause Schizophrenia… It may Contribute Though

For someone with schizophrenia who has used cannabis, to say it doesn’t cause schizophrenia, I am either delusional or well informed.

I am a mental health specialist journalist, and have spoken to various scientists at the leading edge of research, in my personal quest to find answers about my own illness. I also understand the logical pathways involved in the descent into delusion or conspiracy theory. I get delusions, and like the conspiracy theories I see in my journalism, enjoy picking them apart.

The fact is, no direct links can be shown between cannabis and schizophrenia at present. In an article for another title I spoke to a government scientist who told me that the links have all been researched, and no researchers at all globally are looking at the links any more – because it is widely regarded as being impossible to find.

My first psychiatrist explained to my father that 1 in one hundred people among the world population will develop schizophrenia. You could be the son of Rupert Murdoch and develop schizophrenia, or you could be a nomad in Mongolia and have the same chances.

As someone with a psychotic illness I have a genuine fear of the readership of the UK tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail. To those that believe everything they read in said paper I am not a married journalist and social justice campaigner, but someone with severe risk of murdering someone in the street who should be locked up indefinitely merely for having mental illness. I often end up in combat with them, generally arguing until they get aggressive and start raving, making me scared they may have a knife on them.

I take everything I read in that paper with a pinch of salt. In July 2007 it came up with the unshakeable truth that you have a much higher chance of developing schizophrenia if you smoke a joint. ‘The researchers, from four British universities, analysed the results of 35 studies into cannabis use from around the world. This suggested that trying cannabis only once was enough to raise the risk of schizophrenia by 41 per cent.’

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/richard-shrubb/cannabis-does-not-cause-s_b_946149.html?ref=tw

by Richard Shrubb, Huffington Post

What to do When Someone Refuses to Take Their Medication

It is an unfortunate truth that many mental illness patients won’t take their medications at one time or another. This is known as treatment noncompliance or treatment nonadherence, if you want to be a bit more politically correct.

And also unfortunate is the fact that when a person with a mental illness refuses to take their medication they almost inexorably get sicker. People with bipolar disorder who won’t take their medication, for example, often become manic and then wind up hurting themselves or someone else and end up in the hospital. And watching this happen, as a loved one, is extremely painful.

So is there anything you can do when a person refuses to take their medication? Is there anything you can do about treatment noncompliance?

Why Does a Person Refuse to Take Their Medication?

I think the most important question to ask is why is the person refusing to take their medication. The answer to that really dictates what to do next.

There are really three reasons mental illness patients are noncompliant.

  1. The medication isn’t working and their illness convinces them to go off their medication.
  2. Their medication is working but the side effects are intolerable.
  3. Their medication is working, they’re experiencing wellness and so they think they no longer need their medication.

Read more: http://natashatracy.com/mental-illness-issues/refuses-medication-treatment-noncompliance/

by Natasha Tracy

Exercise Improves Mental Health of Overweight Teens

…..Although physical benefits from the exercise were mild (probably because of the limited duration of the trial) teens reported improvements in perceived scholastic competence, social competence, and several markers of body image including appearance esteem and weight esteem.

According to Goldfield, exercise induced improvements in body image, perceived social and academic functioning are psychologically empowering and may help buffer against some of the weight-based teasing and discrimination and bias that’s often inflicted on obese kids, which can have devastating effects on their emotional well-being.

“We’re talking about psychological benefits derived from improved fitness resulting from modest amount of aerobic exercise– not a change in weight or body fat,”  Goldfield said.

“If you can improve your physical activity and fitness even minimally, it can help improve your mental health. By teaching kids to focus on healthy active lifestyle behaviors, they are focusing on something they can control.”

by Rick Nauert, PhD